The ideal frequency for relaxing hair is between 6 to 12 weeks. Each person's hair requires different levels of care, so a professional hair stylist should be consulted for the most accurate estimate.
Chemical relaxers work by breaking certain proteins in the hair to unwind tight curls. The cortex of the hair is elongated, which alters the curling pattern to loosen it. Relaxers typically contain chemicals like sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, lithium hydroxide and guanidine hydroxide. The higher the content of hydroxide, the more potent the relaxer is. Some relaxers require the application of a protective cream beforehand, while others contain protective ingredients instead. Typical processing time for a chemical relaxer treatment is between 20 and 25 minutes.
Although relaxers have a reputation for being damaging, many beauty experts believe that when done professionally and at safe intervals, relaxed hair can stay healthy if it is properly cared for. Regular deep conditioning treatments and trims, moisturizing the scalp and wrapping the hair at night can all help keep relaxed hair strong. Additionally, if the person with relaxed hair sets it in rollers at night, it is important to use ones that do not put too much stress on the hair, thus encouraging breakage.